The Year of Living Biblically

When you see a pretty woman married to another man, you have to put her in the same class as your mother. She's off-limits. The very notion of her as a sex partner is repulsive, unthinkable, except to perverts and/or those who have read too much Freud.

"What was your childhood like?" "It was cold. There was no insulation, so it got to be two below in our room." "Wow," I say. "Two below the covers." This time he can't suppress the corners of his mouth from turning slightly upward. That was definitely a gag.

seeking donations for the "United Negro Pizza Fund."

Or consider this passage: "You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother" (Exodus 23:19, NASB). If you take this literally, as I'm trying to do, this is relatively easy. I think--with a little willpower and a safe distance from farms--I can make it for a year without boiling a baby goat in its mother's milk. My friend John suggested that, worse comes to worst, I could boil the baby goat in its aunt's milk. Thanks, John.

friend of mine said that even observing the Sabbath might be breaking the Sabbath, since my job is to follow the Bible. That gave me a two-hour headache.)

I'm no handyman. Put it this way: When I watch Bob the Builder with Jasper, I always learn something new

There's something satisfying about buying lumber.

there are two kinds of work in this world: altering the position of matter on earth, and telling other people to alter the position of matter on earth.

The unhappy ending seems unduly harsh. But I do love the image of the king doing a wild holy jig.

I can't use smiley face emoticons, which I never used anyway, but it was nice knowing I had the option.

(Incidentally, the author of Proverbs would be fine with my lack of sleep; he considers sleep a sign of laziness that will lead to poverty.)

Even more stressful to me is that the outside world is speeding along without me. Emails are being answered. Venti lattes are being sipped. George Bush's childhood friends are being appointed to high-level positions.

the Sabbath is a sanctuary in time.

You can't sleep with a married woman because it's an affront both to God and to her husband's rights. And if you sleep with a virgin, you should make sure that her father is compensated properly.

The compensation could take the form of paying off the father. Or you could take the woman off his hands and marry her.

But the Bible's command is absolute. It doesn't say "Thou shalt not steal except for small things from multinational corporations with a faux Italian name for medium."

I should be more like Noah. It took Noah decades to build his ark. Can you imagine the mockery he must have received from doubting neighbors? If Noah were alive today, he wouldn't be wasting his time checking out what blogs said about him. He'd be down at Home Depot buying more lumber.

I don't eat much bacon, either; my cholesterol already hovers around the score of a professional bowler, and I don't need it to break 300.

"I found that a lot of my signs were the same as deaf sign language. Like the word understand." Gil puts two of his fingers on his palm. "You just did the sign for toast," says the girl. Gil shrugs. "Well, it wasn't the most important thing that I invented in my life."

It has become a reflex. Every time I use the future tense, I try to tag on those two words: "God willing." My mother hates it. She told me I sound like someone who sends in videos to Al Jazeera. And I know my verbal tic comes off as weird in secular settings. But I find it a profound reminder of the murky instability of the future. Yes, I hope to return home at six, but God or fate might have other plans. This, in turn, makes me value the present even more.

"the bends"